The hero and heroine themselves are quite nice, but good christ with the references to other books in Balogh's repertoire. There are portions that areThe hero and heroine themselves are quite nice, but good christ with the references to other books in Balogh's repertoire. There are portions that are nigh-unreadable if you are not intimately familiar with the entire Bedwyn saga, not only because their family tree is ludicrously convoluted with everyone having their own special backstory, but also because you have zero emotional attachment to all of these characters making cameo appearances in their happily ever afters. Apparently I had the same commentary on Simply Perfect five years ago, even as I totally didn't remember reading the book (or any of the characters) until goodreads reminded me. ...more
Put it down 10% in because of dickbag hero; picked it up again and enjoyed it in a procrastinatey manner. Then, about 65-70% in, I was committed enougPut it down 10% in because of dickbag hero; picked it up again and enjoyed it in a procrastinatey manner. Then, about 65-70% in, I was committed enough to keep reading but spent the rest of the book yelling at the heroine to tell the hero exactly how much of a giant dickbag he was being. To my surprise and moderate gratification, she did, as well as a couple of other well-executed put-downs. I just - ugh. This book is built around the conceit of the hero and heroine saying goodbye to each other (well, let's be honest - the heroine shutting the hero down) multiple times (for good reasons that even the hero acknowledges are good reasons) but both of them regretting the goodbye, and the way the author gets them back together repeatedly is to have the hero repeatedly say, occasionally even explicitly, "I don't believe in her no." Which no matter how much you know he's right, she doesn't actually want to not see him again, I just can't get on board with a hero who ignores the heroine's no (thankfully never sexually, and how low a standard is that to have?) and where the narrative actively supports him in that. Blergle. ...more
Delicious hurt/comfort, with a particular relish of the hero rescuing the heroine from a wretched situation and showering her with both material comfoDelicious hurt/comfort, with a particular relish of the hero rescuing the heroine from a wretched situation and showering her with both material comforts as well as the support and opportunity to reclaim her dignity - a particular weakness of mine. ...more
This is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness forThis is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness for both lyrical musings and messing about with genre structure....more
This series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and IThis series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and I think it simultaneously a) was oversold to me and 2) has elements I just don't like. It's terribly competent in doing its thing; I just don't like the thing.
I was expecting, I don't know, something more serious. I was not expecting to be introduced to a forcibly whimsical cast of characters. I was not expecting a romance-novel-style asshole hero. I was not expecting the heroine to make quite so many boneheaded moves.
I think it's that this is written like a certain kind of romance novel that does not work for me (some do, and I enjoy them thoroughly, but my tastes are very specific), except there's not a romantic resolution at the end of the first book, plus there's some dead people and some mystery solvin'. This again should be right up my alley, but the execution fell down for me.
Mostly I just cannot make myself be allured by a hero who says, "If you do X, I will not be responsible for my actions." No, jackass. You're always responsible. To place the blame for your actions - presumably harmful ones - on the heroine, in order to control her? Yeah. I'm checked out and could care less whether your emotionally stunted wooing over corpses is successful. This is a certain brand of romance hero who has little more personality than "hot" and "brooding" by which I remain utterly unentranced. Also, I will admit my bias for a clever heroine, and so far Lady Julia isn't cutting it.
All that, and I still give it three stars. It was competent, yes, and I will read at least a couple of sequels. It almost scratches the itch, and it remains to be seen if the other books magnify the problems or resolve them. ...more
Rarely have I been so enthused to read about wretched people being awful to each other. Shipstead does a remarkable job making me want to know more abRarely have I been so enthused to read about wretched people being awful to each other. Shipstead does a remarkable job making me want to know more about characters , to the point that I found myself thinking about them when not reading and was genuinely eager to pick up the book again whenever I put it down. She has a delightful turn of phrase, and while certain characters were awful enough that I never quite felt sympathy for them, Shipstead made me understand how they came to be who they were and why their awful decisions made complete sense for them. And I mean awful in the "you are a terrible parent who is emotionally stunting your children in the same way your parents did to you" way, not the mass murdering/wolf of wall street/physically abusive sort of way.
This book is like the drawing room comedy of manners upper class wedding shenanigans of a Regency romance, only modern and, for lack of a better word, "realer." The prejudices, crappy parenting, insecurities, and lack of neatly tied up spit polished happy ending is out in full force. Also there's a dead whale. Like you do. ...more